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State v. Ananthula

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fourth District, Athens

December 30, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
CHARITHA ANANTHULA, Defendant-Appellant.

         CRIMINAL APPEAL FROM MUNICIPAL COURT

          Scott P. Wood, Lancaster, Ohio, for appellant. [1]

          Lisa A. Eliason, Athens City Law Director, and Matthew M. Ward, Athens City Prosecutor, Athens, Ohio, for appellee.

          DECISION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY

          ABELE, J.

         {¶ 1} This is an appeal from an Athens County Municipal Court judgment that denied the request of Charitha Ananthula, defendant below and appellant herein, to withdraw her guilty plea. Appellant assigns one error for review:

"THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN OVERRULING APPELLANT'S MOTION TO WITHDRAW HER GUILTY PLEA AFTER SHE WAS SENTENCED."

         {¶ 2} Appellant, an Indian national, lives in the United States on a foreign student visa. On February 5, 2018, appellant was charged with theft in violation of Athens City Code Ordinance 13.03.01, a first-degree misdemeanor. On February 6, 2018, appellant, while represented by counsel, entered a not guilty plea. Although the record includes multiple requests for continuances, two are especially relevant to this appeal. On March 28, 2018, the trial court granted a request for a continuance and wrote that appellant "is a foreign student. Counsel is reviewing impact of immigration status." On April 17, 2018, the court issued another entry and wrote "need to [check] on immigration regulations"

         {¶ 3} On May 7, 2018, appellant pleaded guilty to theft. The trial court imposed a $500 fine and ordered her to serve 90 days in jail, with all the jail time and $400 of the fine suspended on the conditions that appellant remain a law abiding citizen for two years, complete 40 hours of community service, and have no contact with Wal-Mart.

         {¶ 4} On March 21, 2019, appellant filed a motion to withdraw her guilty plea. Appellant's motion cited Crim.R. 32.1 and R.C. 2943.031, State v. Francis, 104 Ohio St.3d 490, 2004-Ohio-6894, 820 N.E.2d 355 (2004), and Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356, 130 S.Ct. 1473, 176 L.Ed.2d 284 (2010). After the trial court held a hearing on the motion, the court denied appellant's request. This appeal followed.

         I.

         {¶ 5} "Criminal defendants who are not United States citizens are permitted to withdraw a guilty plea in two distinct ways: (1) upon the finding that they were not given the warning required by R.C. 2932.031(A)(1) (and the court was not relieved of that requirement under R.C. 2943.031(B) of the potential consequences to their resident status when they pled guilty to criminal charges, among other related requirements contained in R.C. 2943.031(D)), or (2) when a court finds, pursuant to Crim.R. 32.1, that it is necessary to correct manifest injustice." State v. Cardenas, 2016-Ohio-5537, 61 N.E.3d 20, ¶ 14 (2d Dist), citing State v. Toyloy, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 14AP-463, 2015-Ohio-1618, ¶ 12.

         {¶ 6} Section (F) of R.C. 2943.031 "clarifies that the statute does not prevent a trial court from granting a plea withdrawal under the procedural rule, Crim.R. 32.1." Id. Thus, R.C. 2943.031 provides "an independent means of withdrawing a guilty plea separate and apart from and in addition to the requirements of Crim.R. 32.1." State v. Weber, 125 Ohio App.3d 120, 129, 707 N.E.2d 1178 (10th Dist. 1997). When a motion to withdraw a plea is premised under R.C. 2943.031(D), the usual "manifest injustice" standard applied to Crim.R. 32.1 motions does not apply; rather, the R.C. 2943.031 standards apply. State v. Francis, 104 Ohio St.3d 490, 2004-Ohio-6894, 820 N.E.2d 355, ¶ 26. Moreover, the Supreme Court of Ohio instructs us that, regardless of whether a motion to withdraw a plea is based on R.C. 2943.031 or Crim.R. 32.1, an appellate court reviews a trial court's decision under the abuse-of-discretion standard. Francis at ¶ 32, citing State v. Smith, 49 Ohio St.2d 261, 361 N.E.2d 1324 (1977), paragraph two of the syllabus.

         II.

         {¶ 7} In her sole assignment of error, appellant asserts that the trial court erred by overruling her motion to withdraw her guilty plea.[2]

         {¶ 8} If a defendant is not a citizen of the United States, under R.C. 2943.031(A) a trial court must personally address the defendant and advise, on the record, the possible deportation consequences associated with a guilty plea. R.C. 2943.031 provides:

(A) Except as provided in division (B) of this section, prior to accepting a plea of guilty or a plea of no contest to an indictment, information, or complaint charging a felony or a misdemeanor other than a minor misdemeanor if the defendant previously has not been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a minor misdemeanor, the court shall address the defendant personally, provide the following advisement to the defendant that shall be entered in the record of the court, and determine that the defendant understands the advisement:
"If you are not a citizen of the United States, you are hereby advised that conviction of the offense to which you are pleading guilty (or no contest, when applicable) may have the consequences of deportation, exclusion from admission to the United States, or denial of ...

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